Although we can’t gather face to face at this time, we’ve created this slide show of the friends and families of Westminster. Now you’ll at least remember what we look like! Take a look and see if you recognize any friends!
While self-isolating and working from home for several weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about
the environment. Of course, primarily I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and its devastating
impact on our health, our economy, our society. But in what perhaps represents a tiny glimmer
of hope, the worldwide measures to contain the pandemic have resulted in reduced carbon
emissions and better air quality.
This is not surprising, you might be thinking – people all over the world are staying home, after
all. That is certainly true. And it’s not that I’m naive enough to think we’re going to continue
staying home to this extent once the danger from the pandemic is over. But, the glimmer of hope
I see is that perhaps this will get us all to realize that our actions truly have a profound effect on
the environment. More importantly, perhaps we will all realize that we really do have some
control over the rate at which climate change occurs. After all, if humanity doesn’t come
together to reduce carbon emissions, who will?
Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22. As people of faith, let’s come together to care for the Earth.
Doing so is one step we can take to help ameliorate the disproportionate impact global warming
will have on those who are least able to weather its effects.
My vision is that Westminster will become a leader on this front in the local community. While
action needs to be taken on the local, state, national, and international fronts by individuals,
governments, and businesses, we all can start somewhere.
The Charlottesville Climate Collaborative is a great resource for getting started. Its website –
www.theclimatecollaborative.org – is full of ways to engage in this critical fight for our planet.
I encourage you to sign up for the Household Challenge. There is already one team at
Westminster participating – it would be great if more households did as well! And, the
Collaborative even has a virtual climate camp with activities and ideas for all ages while we are
staying at home.
You also might want to consider joining a group such as The Sierra Club, League of Women
Voters, or Friends of the Earth. They have climate newsletters full of useful information.
Remember – We Have No Other Earth!
Chair, Peace, Justice & Inclusion Division
On behalf of The Green Team
A Summary of the March 29, 2020 Session Meeting
The Session began their meeting over “Zoom” at 1:45. Ruling Elders Present: Nadine Roddy, Anne Hedelt, Dan Heuchert, Will Hochstetler, Rebecca McGregor, Candace Spence, Ellen ThomasClarke, Wayne Cilimberg, Hal Collums, Dana Eastman, John Echeverri-Gent, David Heflin, Alyce Outlaw, Meredith Powell, Ruthie Buck, Jim Cauthen, Mike Moore, Ken Young. Recording Clerk Barry Parks. Teaching Elders present: Rev. Lynne Clements, Rev. Dorothy Piatt, Rev. Ken Henry. Staff present: Sandy Wilcox, Megan Sharp. Invited guest: Kobby Hoffman, Chair of the Benevolence Committee.
- Ken Henry, Moderator, summarized a pastoral letter from the Presbytery of the James, dated March 27, 2002. In light of this global health emergency, the POJ has acted in the following ways. 1. An Inspire Gift of $2,000 is being given this coming week to each of the 101 churches, five campus ministries, two P.C.(U.S.A.) mission co-workers supported by POJ, and 26 validated ministries. It is the desire of the POJ that churches and ministries use the Inspire Gift as they see fit. 2. Advance Fund for Pastors and Certified Christian Educators. Among many of the churches in the POJ, financial resources are being stretched, slowed, or drawing to a small trickle. Members of congregations are doing their best but, as employment is threatened and investments are fluctuating, the source of giving in our churches is being strained. Therefore, the POJ has established an Advance Fund ($50,000 so far) . . . to be used solely to sustain pastors’ and certified Christian educators’ salary, housing, and benefits during these days. 3. Video or Audio License Reimbursement. The Trustees are announcing that any of our smaller churches who may need to purchase a license for audio or video conferencing can be reimbursed for the cost of the license. Such expenses will be reimbursed to the churches upon completion of an Expense Report with supporting receipts
- Hal Collums, Worship Chair, made a motion to continue the suspension of all “in-person” worship services at Westminster Presbyterian Church from April 6 through April 30, 2020. M/S/C (Moved, Seconded/Carried)
- Ruthie Buck, Peace, Justice, and Inclusion Chair, made a motion that WPC distribute $75,530 in benevolence gifts to our non-profit partners in the community. M/S/C. Kobby Hoffman and the Benevolence Committee will seek the guidance of the WPC Budget Committee for how and when to distribute these funds. An additional $13,550 will be held back and hopefully distributed in the future. “We aspire to give, but we cannot responsibly give with so many unknowns.”
- Session concurred with the Budget Committee that the Rugby Entrance Redesign project should be deferred. Dominion Energy has already taken down the canopy of the tree, so it is no longer the threat to passers-by it was. We do not want to take funds out of our endowment funds when the market is so chaotic. M/S/C
- Session also concurred with the Budget Committee’s recommendation that disbursement of the remaining Session-designated benevolence funds of the 2019 surplus be deferred until later in the year. At its Stated Meeting of March 8, 2020, Session approved distributing the funds among 3 recipients: (1) the POJ; (2) our own University Mission, and (3) the Voices of Jubilee ministry. At this March 29th Called Meeting, Session adjusted the amounts to be distributed as follows: $6,900 to POJ as a one-time gift; $900 to University Mission; and $900 to the Voices of Jubilee. M/S/C
- Anne Hedelt, Personnel Chair, made a motion to immediately close the WPC Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, office and Common Grounds through April 30, with the exception of special permissions granted by Ken or his designee for selected individuals to enter or work at WPC properties. M/S/C
- Anne Hedelt also moved on behalf of the Personnel Committee that the compensation of the church’s hourly employees (the Assistant Sexton and the nursery workers), who are prevented from working by the suspension of worship services and the closure of church property, be continued through April 30, 2020. M/S/C
- The Session decided to cancel its Stated Meeting of April 5, 2020, but to keep the Stated Meeting of May 3, 2020, on its calendar for now. The moderator will likely call a meeting later in April. M/S/C
UVA Medical Center Blood Drive
Virginia hospitals are experiencing a severe blood shortage across the state. UVA Health encourages members of the community who are healthy & eligible to contact the American Red Cross to make an appointment to donate at one of their fixed locations.
Charlottesville City Schools Free Lunch Program
Charlottesville City Schools is offering free lunch to students during the coronavirus pandemic. The Charlottesville Area Community Foundation is creating a school-based fund to support their food delivery efforts.
General Ways to Give & Receive Support
Support Cville is the most comprehensive website listing ways for people to give and receive support. Here are a couple specific links through Support Cville:
Donate to COVID-19 Support Funds
- Charlottesville Area Community Foundation
- United Way COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund
- Alliance for Interfaith Ministries
Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Free Internet Access
COMCAST Xfinity is now offering free hotspots to anyone who needs them for free until approximately May 13, including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser. AT&T and Charter Communications are also providing free public Wi-Fi, now until approximately May 13.
We are experiencing the beginning of a season of collective mourning — not only for lives lost and livelihoods disrupted, but also for the loss of normalcy. Even those of us who are relatively privileged and healthy during this global pandemic are grieving postponed plans. Some of the plans I’m grieving included The Border Is Here immigration workshop led by UVA students, the dedication of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, an opportunity to care for the earth around us through a joint cleanup day with student environmental groups, and our ministry of hospitality with students during Open Study Hours at Common Grounds.
While these plans have been postponed, we can still practice compassion now. In addition to observing physical distancing policies to slow the spread of the virus and help “flatten the curve,” we at Westminster have been asking how we can be in solidarity with the most vulnerable people in our community during this global health crisis — how we can help “flatten the curve” of economic and other suffering.
The Benevolence committee has continued meeting remotely so that Westminster can continue our vital support for nonprofit organizations during a challenging time. We will share updates on our community partners in the coming weeks. In this edition of the e-newsletter, you’ll find a list of local resources and ways to (give and receive) help during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to supporting the church, several members of the Westminster community have decided to contribute part or all of our anticipated government stimulus checks to relief efforts. I invite you to consider what safe way(s) you might practice social solidarity with our neighbors during this time. Let’s “flatten the curve” together in whatever ways we can.
Finally, please pray for the university students among us who have experienced dislocation and disruption. I have been reaching out personally and through group messages on behalf of Westminster to offer pastoral support and will continue to do so. UVA’s administration is aware of our community’s presence and will share with us through United Ministries at UVA any opportunities to be of service that may arise. In addition, 20/30 CreW has made our Wednesday Wind-Down event weekly so that graduate students and young professionals have the opportunity to provide mutual support more frequently through Zoom conversations.
I trust that better days are ahead and that God is at work in the meantime, inviting us into partnership in healing.